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Ampion Venture Bus has announced the winners of the East African and Southern African startups. Carpooling service Jambo Car won the East African round, while water sanitation startup E-Maji was crowned the Southern African winner.
By touring with entrepreneurs across regions in Africa, Ampion Bus seeks to develop innovative tech solutions on the continent, using both international and local skills and talent.
At AfricaCom in Cape Town, South Africa, E-Maji had to match the business plans and ambitions of eight other starups from the region. These included the platform for entrepreneurs Mens et Manus; platform for schools Keetla; Road Rules — an app that helps learners study for their driver’s licences; cleaning service distributor Shining Homes; Mlimi, which is a platform for farmers; Da-mark.com’s online marketplace; citizen engagement platform My Time for Change; and finally SchoolitUp which makes educational tools accessible.
E-Maji showcased a smart water quality testing unit, which shows whether the tested water is safe to drink in real-time. The system then uses a GPS transmitter to track where the water is contaminated, shuts down the water supply, and automatically notifies the relevant authorities.
Hailing from Zimbabwe, co-founder Taf Makura explained how the team came up with E-Maji:
When we got on the bus we had a very clear and simple objective, we were going to use technology to solve a problem without focusing on the technology itself. We were aware of how technological requirements of any kind can quickly get in the way of mass adoption in Africa. Our technology had to work in the background without placing any technical requirements on the people it was meant to help.
At the K-Labs in Kigali, Rwanda, Jambo Car went head-to-head against six other startups ranging from ecommerce, health and education. These included education startup for farmers and business mTunza; medicinal calendar service myDawa, audio story-telling app MobileHathidi; solar energy startup Smart Umeme; medical information service Glukoa; and mTiba, which is a tool that connects doctors with their patients.
The winner of the East African chapter, Jambo Car, has developed a carpooling service prototype. Betty Ngugi, CEO of Jambo Car expressed her delight after winning first prize:
I am thrilled to have met such amazing people on the trip with AMPION through East Africa! Ideas turned into lean pitches and strangers became friends. We look forward to building our platform and rolling out our business as a joint African – European cooperation.